Red Mountain Overview
Red Mountain is famous for being the other
of Colorado's tallest 100 peaks located in the Culebra Range, the largely privately-owned sub-range of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The 14er Culebra Peak
gets all the attention and controversy, but access to Red Mountain is equally cumbersome. For an in-depth look at the Culebra Range's tangled history of ownership, please spend some time with Grant's excellent Culebra Peak
page. Most recently, the Taylor Ranch was purchased by a group of investors headed by Bobby and Dottie Hill of Texas. They renamed the property Cielo Vista Ranch, and in August and September of 2004, they experimented with allowing hikers on their property. The pilot plan was a success, and the owners have continued to permit access in the years since.
Red Mountain, Colorado's 70th tallest, is traditionally climbed using an easy ridge traverse from the summit of Culebra Peak. There are other hypothetically possible routes to Red, but with access completely barred from the east, and access limited to the standard Culebra Peak route from the west, for now these routes can only be imagined. In the past, some have continued traversing the range crest all the way south to Vermejo and Purgatoire Peaks, but permission must be obtained for any additional peakbagging on the ranch.
Culebra Range Overview
Who am I kidding? Anything I could write here would pale in comparison with the work that Grant's done for the Culebra Peak
page. If you're interested in the Culebras' tangled and lengthy history, please spend some time there.
Thanks to Grant for these driving directions from the Culebra Peak page.
"From the town of San Luis on Colorado 159 turn southeast onto road P6 (fourth street). Once in the town of Chama turn left (east) on road L7. Then turn right (south) onto road 22.3 and cross Culebra Creek. Finally turn left (east) onto road M5 follow the road as it will turn to a dirt road. After this point you will run into the Cielo Vista (formerly Taylor Ranch) gates."
Driving directions for Cielo Vista Ranch visitors were provided by the ranch manager in 2004. Once on the ranch property, please ENSURE that you are on the correct road for Culebra Peak. If you drive off-route, you could disturb hunters, who paid a much larger fee than you did, and jeopardize future access for hikers.
Red Mountain suffers from major red tape issues because it's wholly located on private property. Red's western side is on the Cielo Vista Ranch, and the new owners experimented with allowing hikers access in 2004. Access has continued in the years since.
When To Climb
Your best shot at getting to climb Red Mountain is in the summer. In 2005, paid access to Red Mountain was allowed from June 25-August 31. In 2005, access began on May 15. There have been a couple of known exceptions given by the ranch to people pursuing winter 14er goals, one for a Colorado celebrity.
Camping was not permitted on the Cielo Vista Ranch property last year, and I don't know if that situation will change. People have been allowed to car-camp in front of the ranch gate the night before they were scheduled to climb Culebra and Red.
The Cielo Vista Ranch is your primary contact for conditions in the area.
For weather information, the National Weather Service is a good place to start:
Red Mountain NWS Experimental Point forecast